The Truth About Hand Sanitizers

The Truth About Hand Sanitizers

As a new mother, I always used hand sanitizer. I kept giant bottles all over our home. We had a premature baby, so not only did I make everyone wash their hands—I also made them use the sanitizer. I’d also read some study or another that claimed if you used hand sanitizer before you changed a baby, stomach bugs were less common in the home. (Looking back, I bet the study was “hand washing” rather than sanitizing!)

I know it was overkill. I know, also, that most new moms—with preemie kids or not—are probably just as psycho over cleanliness and germs when it comes to their babies, too. I remember reading an article once about how Katie Holmes wouldn’t let Suri Cruise, her daughter, play at the playground until she’d sanitized the whole thing with wipes. I’m not going to judge other parents, nor am I asking people to understand what I did; we all do crazy things to protect our kids sometimes.

It turns out, however, that hand sanitizers are not just a silly fluke, and they’re also not just ineffective—they’re also dangerous. They contain a chemical known as tricolsan, which can disrupt the endocrine glands. A registered pesticide, triclosan has the same structure as the most toxic substances on earth—making it both a human health and environmental hazard. It may be linked to cancer and many other health concerns, both short-term and long-term. The chemicals are also toxic if ingested, which can cause a problem with young children who tend to put their fingers in their mouths.

I’m simply appalled to know this after I used such substances on my hands nearly every day while my child was an infant. As there were sanitizers outside the rooms in the hospital, I simply thought it was healthy—I have since learned that just because a hospital uses a product, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. They also bathed my infant in Johnson’s baby soap, which I’ve since learned has plenty of toxic crap in it; even our pediatrician hates the stuff and suggested more natural, gentler products for our daughter. (Plus, I’m sure that hospitals use different grades than those that are available commercially, too.)

In truth, it’s best just to wash your hands, period. It also removes off actual dirt and grime, something sanitizers simply cannot do. Running into a gas station or the library bathroom may be an inconvenience, but in the long run it just might be a better idea.